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In Time O’ Strife

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Rough-hewn and powerful, the National Theatre of Scotland takes Joe Corrie’s great cry of pain on behalf of working men and their families, and places it firmly in the community from whence it came.

Framing the adaptation during a 1980s Fife social hall ceilidh, Graham McLaren’s music-driven production brings it right into the present, while allowing it to speak for the past it represents. The device enables the seven strong cast to root their performances in 1926, when the miners strike is just passing six months, parish charity is being stopped and starvation is a very real threat.

Hannah Donaldson is meticulous as the conflicted Jenny, whose young man breaks the strike in order to buy them tickets to Canada, brother is jailed for picketing and father swithers to the cause. When this gets close in and intimate, Donaldson is the epitome of the dilemma facing any person struggling for collective power. Anita Vettesse distils the bitter understanding of the mother Jean’s role as backbone of the family.

When big emotions are called for, John Kazek as father Jock and Tom McGovern as weak-hearted neighbour Tam, bring the full range of rage, sorrow and bluster. Kazek takes the emotion down low, but doesn’t maintain clarity in the production’s only failing.

Michael John McCarthy and his onstage ceilidh band give noisy voice to his own settings of Corrie’s poetry. Between scenes, hard ritualised dance, the antithesis of Scottish country dancing more usually associated with such venues, breaks out. A fitting tribute to the 30th anniversary of the 1984 miners’ strike.

  • Lochgelly Centre, Lochgelly
  • August 28-30, then touring until October 25
  • Authors: Joe Corrie, Graham McLaren adaptation
  • Director: Graham McLaren
  • Design: Lizzie Powell lighting
  • Choreographer: Imogen Knight
  • Cast: Hannah Donaldson, John Kazek, Tom McGovern, Vicki Manderson, James Robinson, Anita Vettesse, Owen Whitelaw
  • Producer: National Theatre of Scotland
  • Running time: 1hr 40mins

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